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27.6.08

Bartoli as Maria as Clari

Think of it as Maria, Part 2. After releasing an album devoted to repertoire sung by Maria Malibran, Cecilia Bartoli convinced the Zurich Opera to revive a mostly forgotten opera composed for Malibran, Jacques Fromental Halévy's Clari. The story concerns a girl, Clari, deceived by a nobleman with a promise of marriage. She learns of her own trouble only when watching an operetta within the opera. George Loomis was there to review it ( Zurich Opera and Cecilia Bartoli revive Halévy's opera 'Clari', May 27) for the International Herald Tribune:

In a program note, Bartoli extols Malibran's artistic freedom and, following the earlier singer's example, interpolates other arias - the beguiling Willow Song from Rossini's "Otello," sung with ravishing tenderness, and a pyrotechnical showpiece from Halévy's "The Tempest," which makes for a sizzling final scene. In their updated production Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier also accord themselves a measure of freedom, as they seem to hedge their bets on whether to take this rare bird of an opera seriously. There was also some unwelcome tinkering with Halévy's tuneful score, such as starting the action with an aria plucked from the middle of Act 1. Christian Fenouillat's set for the Duke's salon - a sort of gaudy art gallery that included an enormous red bust of a gorilla - was over the top, but it was clever to set Act 2 in a modern hospital for Clari's emotional recovery.
Adam Fischer led the HIP ensemble in residence at the Zurich Opera, the Orchestra La Scintilla.

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